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Rethinking channel entrance and exit events and messages

Updated: 2017-05 APIs

We've long delivered a message subtype event to everyone in a channel as members come and go.

As a message, its main purpose is to communicate facts to users but it was never a very good vehicle for communicating these facts to bots and applications.

We're introducing new, more frugal logic behind when Slack dispatches message.channel_join and message.channel_leave message subtype events in the RTM API and Events API.

If you've relied on these events for programmatic notice when members leave or join a channel, we've got new, strongly structured signals for you to subscribe to and consume instead, member_joined_channel and member_left_channel.

What's changing?

We're adding some new events (additive) and altering the frequency of others (mutative).

Additive

Who doesn't like distinguished events describing specific activity in the Events API and RTM API? Introducing two star-crossed events:

Here's an example delivery sent through the Events API for the new member_joined_channel event. You'll find the member_left_channel event has entirely the same shape, form, and data. It just has its own event type, telling a different part of the same old story.

{
    "token": "your_lovely_verification_token",
    "team_id": "T061EG9R6",
    "api_app_id": "A06H2SP7S",
    "event": {
        "type": "member_joined_channel",
        "user": "U061F7AUR",
        "channel": "C061EG9T2",
        "channel_type": "C",
        "event_ts": "1493335475.238488"
    },
    "type": "event_callback",
    "authed_users": [
        "U08CXES3B"
    ],
    "event_id": "Ev0AFTE509",
    "event_time": 1493335475
}

Let's look at the most pertinent fields in more detail. These events tell you 4 of the 5 Ws.

  • Who: The user value is a user ID belonging to the user that joined (or lefft) the channel.
  • What: The event type tells you what happened, either a channel join or leave.
  • Where: The channel value is the ID for a public channel or private channel (AKA group). The channel is where this event is happening.
  • When: Just now!
  • Why: Your app may never know.

Finally, there's a channel_type value yielding a single letter indicating the type of channel represented by channel:

  • C - typically a public channel
  • G - private channels (or groups) return this channel_type

You can subscribe to these new events now and should see them begin to stream in the RTM API in the coming days.

Mutative

In addition to these two new events, we're changing the frequency of user-facing messages concerning joining and leaving channels and conversations.

Though the message.channel_join and message.channel_leave events still exist, they won't fire every time a user joins and leaves a channel or conversation.

Slack will use a few factors like the size and activity of teams and channels to determine how few or many arrival and departure messages to broadcast to channels. Ultimately, we want channels to feel cozy for all kinds of conversation.

If atomic predictability is important to your app, we recommend relying on the new member_joined_channel and members_left_channel events instead.

What isn't changing?

These vintage message.channel_join and message.channel_leave events will continue lingering around. You'll probably encounter more of them on smaller teams than you do on larger teams.

How do I prepare?

Anything you're accomplishing with channel join and leave messages today should be improved by interpreting the new member_joined_channel and member_left_channel events instead.

If you're using the Events API, subscribe to these new events as either a bot subscription or a team subscription. Team subscriptions require the corresponding :read scope — you'll need channels:read to receive events from public channels and groups:read from private channels.

If you're using the RTM API, you'll begin receiving both of these events as part of your typical stream of events.

When is this happening?

The new events are available in the RTM API and Events API now.

Changes to the frequency and delivery strategies of older message.channel_join and message.channel_leave events will vary team-to-team.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

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